Directed by Ang Lee
If a film reviewer's job is assess a movie and help readers decide whether it's worth seeing, then it's outrageously unfair to ask someone like me to review a work by Ang Lee.
Why is that?
(a) I'm a filmmaker. I do not possess the true 'objectivity' of journalist.
(b) There is no other filmmaker who rocks my world more than Ang Lee.
Which means before I even enter the cinema to catch his latest film, I'm already heavily biased. How can I possibly NOT recommend this movie? Is it even remotely possible that I won't like it?
Given this baggage, my viewing of Taking Woodstock turned out to be a shockingly unhappy affair.
There I was, sitting in the fourth row, rubbing my hands in anticipation as the house lights dimmed. By the end of the screening, I was choking back tears of mortification, but more of that later.
And dutiful Eliot - who in real life wrote the book that inspired this film - does. The chair of the Bethel Chamber of Commerce (total membership: Six) decides it is not only his parent's livelihood that needs rescuing, but that of the entire town.
When a major concert is cancelled in the neighbouring town of Walkhill due to venue problems, Eliot phones up the organisers and offers them Bethel. In one fell swoop, Eliot resuscitates his parents' motel, and makes rock festival history.
We are treated to images of casual nudity, acid hallucinations, erotic mudfights... and little else. The film's only concern is pleasure-no, not pleasure, happiness. And happiness, as we know, may be great in life, but it sucks in art.
Perhaps, having had his fill of tragedy in films such Brokeback Mountain and Lust, Caution, Lee simply needed a break. Perhaps he chose (as it were) to swing the other way.
But in abandoning a key principle of drama (Conflict is King!), Lee has leached his film of urgency and produced a work of shocking mediocrity.
Leaving the cinema, I nursed a psychological rupture - it turns out my God of Cinema was human afterall.
Ken Kwek is a screenwriter and playwright. His film credits include the award-winning documentary, The Ballad of Vicki and Jake (2005), and The Blue Mansion, directed by Glen Goei, and Kidnapper (2010), directed by Kelvin Tong. His latest play, The Composer, will be staged at The Esplanade Theatre Studio in December this year.